Living with hearing conditions
According to the World Health Organisation, over 5% of the world’s population has hearing loss. That’s nearly half a billion people! It is estimated that by 2050, over 900 million people, or one in ten of us, will have hearing loss.
Hearing loss can be described as mild, moderate or severe. People can lose their hearing gradually or quite literally overnight, in one ear or both. And some people are born deaf. Many people with hearing loss also have tinnitus. Some have hyperacusis and find everyday sounds too uncomfortable to listen to.
Everyone’s hearing loss journey is different and unique. Read about, watch and listen to people’s stories of their own journeys.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) publishes a number of people’s own stories and reflections on their hearing loss.
Read Zara’s letters to her younger self as she grows to accept her hearing loss
Perfect to me
Jayne Fletcher-Brander was born profoundly deaf. Jayne is passionate about music and loves to perform songs. Under the stage name Fletch@, Jayne performs songs using British Sign Language (BSL). Jayne would love for more people to learn BSL as it would be so much easier for deaf people to communicate.
View one of her performances and read more about her story
Strictly Come Dancing
Rose Ayling-Ellis and dance partner Giovanni Pernice’s performance highlighting the beauty of dance in a silent world on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing has moved many. It has brought people’s attention to deaf awareness and raised interest in British Sign Language (BSL).
YouTube link for captions
British Sign Language
BSL is the first language of 87,000 people in the UK. 2022 should see BSL become legally recognised. MP Rosie Cooper, who put forward the bill, said this will send a clear message to every deaf person that 'their language is equal and should be treated as equal'.
Read the RNID report here
Hearing and Mental Health
There are many links between hearing conditions and mental health. Both are ‘hidden disabilities’ in that they cannot be seen by others. People living with hidden disabilities often face barriers in everyday life, including a lack of understanding and negative attitudes.
Hearing conditions and deafness can be isolating and affect mental health. One’s mental health can also affect hearing. Led by public contributors with lived experience of mental health and/or hearing conditions, we are exploring how we can develop new research and educational resources to address aspects of both hearing and mental health. To find out more, watch our video by our public contributors:
YouTube link for captions
Living with single-sided deafness and tinnitus
Carly Sygrove lost her hearing in one ear suddenly in 2016.
Read more about her experience of sudden hearing loss and single-sided deafness (SSD)
In the 2019 BBC World Service documentary ‘Hearing Me’, Carly shares her personal story and speaks honestly about how life with hearing in only one ear is far from quiet, dealing with tinnitus and hyperacusis.
Listen to the documentary
Carly publishes on sites including Hearing Link and The Limping Chicken, as well as her own site.
Carly's 'My Hearing Loss Story'
We interviewed Carly in January 2022 about the importance of hearing research.
YouTube link for captions
Music can be wonderful to listen to but it can be tempting to turn up the volume. Loud sounds can damage your hearing. The Plug’em campaign, run by the British Tinnitus Association, aims to raise awareness of the importance of listening at a safe level.
Read about campaign ambassador DJ Annie Savage’s hearing loss
Assistance dogs are not just for blind people
The Hearing Dogs for Deaf People charity train dogs to become canine helpers for deaf adults and children alike. They play a vital role alerting their owners to sounds that we take for granted such as the doorbell and alarms. They also provide reassurance and companionship as deafness can feel at times quite isolating.
This video tells Kaitlyn's story:
FInd out more information about Hearing Dogs
More stories of people’s own hearing loss published by the RNID
RNID YouTube channel
Tinnitus in children
"People can’t believe George has tinnitus"
Tinnitus is hearing sounds when there is no sound coming from outside the body. Tinnitus is sometimes called “ear noises” or “ringing” or “buzzing” in the ears. Some people describe a ring, whirr, tone or hiss. Some people even hear musical sounds!
We know tinnitus is common in adults. But can children have tinnitus? Not many people realise that yes, they can! We are not entirely sure how many, but one study found one in 30 children to experience tinnitus that affects their day-to-day life. So that could be one child in every classroom.
Read George’s story
British Tinnitus Association resources for teachers about tinnitus in children
Here in Nottingham, we are working to understand more about the issues that children with tinnitus might face. British Tinnitus Association-funded PhD student Harriet Smith talks about her research in this video:
YouTube link (original video has German subtitles as it's hosted on a German channel)
Read Harriet's blog post on the British Tinnitus Association website
A recent summary of Harriet's work is included in Issue 15 of the Audacity magazine, while her recent publications include an evaluation of NHS paediatric tinnitus services and a review of tinnitus problems in children.
Learn more about hearing